Clinton has long viewed the Golden State and its bounty of 54 electoral votes as a key element in his reelection. This week's visit is the president's 28th to the state. On Thursday, Clinton summoned time-honored political ammunition in the quest for votes, gesturing toward a 10-story, $128-million federal court building that may open next year. The president said he wanted to thank Roger W. Johnson, a former Republican and a resident of the county who had worked in his administration, for helping move the "magnificent" building forward. Clinton also said that his push to put more police on the street had brought 54 additional officers to the area.
"There has never been a partnership between the national government and the people of any state like the one we have forged over the last four years," he said. "A lot of it was born of necessity, of earthquakes and fires and floods, of the economic dislocation caused by defense cutbacks, of the terrible recession you were facing when I came here.
"But little by little, day by day, month by month, we worked together to meet the challenges the people of California faced. And look at the difference four years can make."
Clover Tinsley, 89, of Laguna Hills turned out to hear Clinton and offered that "if he had people in Congress who agreed with him, I think he could get some things through."
Asked about Dole's recent attacks on White House ethics, she responded with a question of her own: "What kind of person hasn't done something wrong? Everybody's done something wrong when they're young. It's unquestionable."
Of Dole, she added, "I think he has a bad manner about him, kind of a nasty manner."
After the Santa Ana rally, Clinton helicoptered to the 10-acre Mediterranean-style Beverly Hills estate of Ron Burkle, chairman of the Ralphs supermarket holding company, for a luncheon fund-raiser. About 200 guests attended, including House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo)., Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) and supporters such as boxing promoter Don King.
Meanwhile, the Clinton-Gore campaign Thursday released a new advertisement that features James S. Brady, the former White House press secretary who was shot in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, backing up Clinton on the issue of character and lauding him for resisting the gun lobby. The ad includes footage of the assassination attempt, Clinton's aides said.
Clinton's encounter with the heckler near San Diego occurred as he was surrounded by four Secret Service agents and a tourist from Winter Park, Fla., who had asked to jog alongside the group. Clinton looked puzzled and sported a wry grin but kept running as Parker screamed, "You're a disgrace to the office of the president, to your gender, to this nation!" She added that Clinton is "a draft-dodging, yellow-bellied liar" and a "sex harasser."
Joseph Perez, special agent in charge of the San Diego office of the Secret Service, said that the encounter was unplanned and that the woman acted spontaneously when she looked up and saw Clinton jogging by.
"Nothing she did was contradictory to law. She was not a threat and she made no move at the president. If she had, our people would have taken action," he said.
The Florida tourist, Mark Skousen, a financial newsletter writer and Libertarian, jogged with Clinton for more than a mile. The president engaged in light banter, trying to convince Skousen to become a Democrat.
"It was very civil," Skousen said.
* BETTING ON CALIFORNIA: Dole attacks illegal immigration, shifts ad funds to state. A3
* BRUSH WITH LEADER: Thousands flock to Santa Ana to see the president. A17
* TARGETING SWING VOTERS: O.C. stop meant to aid turnout, woo Clinton Republicans. A18